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Calgary Family Law Blog

Managing child custody issues with long-distance parents

Co-parenting is difficult enough when both parties are in the same city or region. But, for parents who live in very different parts of Alberta or even in different provinces all together, managing child custody issues responsibly can be an even bigger hurdle. Maintaining a bond with a child allowing for reasonable visitation, and avoiding miscommunication is a challenge in long-distance parenting relationships.

There are many reasons parents might live in different areas. One might be a need to earn money; for example, a parent working a job such as mining, oil, military or truck driving that requires him or her to be gone for long periods. In another scenario, the parents may have always resided in different areas and may not have been a couple under the same roof at any time.

Reclaiming financial independence following divorce

The financial stress of a divorce is a frequently discussed topic. Alberta individuals and couples at every stage in a divorce have questions about how to pursue the dissolution of their marriage without creating a seemingly impossible level of financial stress. Navigating divorce mediation in the right way, connecting with helpful professionals and downsizing where appropriate can make a significant difference in one's financial well-being following a divorce.

While it might mean upfront costs, having the right professionals in one's corner can make a big difference in the ultimate result of a divorce. Without solid financial and legal advice, it is possible to miss important factors and to be ill-equipped to make decisions in a divorce. This does not necessarily mean upfront expenses need to be extreme; looking into options such as divorce mediation can provide the appropriate expertise without the ongoing expense.

Can a spouse claim property rights over a business in divorce?

When it comes to getting a divorce, business owners may have a few extra things to worry about. Business that began or grew during the marriage can sometimes be considered marital property that needs to be divided during the family law process. Understanding how Alberta property rights impact business ownership and management is important for both sides in an entrepreneurial divorce.

The paperwork that might sway family law decisions on business ownership in a divorce does not have to be a traditional prenuptial agreement. Buy-sell agreements built within the business can also have an impact on how valuation is determined. However, for any agreement to stand, it will need to be validated by the courts.

Collaborative law and other options when seeking a divorce

Those who are seeking to end their marriages may know that legal support is needed for the process, but what might that support look like? In Alberta divorces, there are few avenues individuals can go through to resolve family law issues. The most commonly pursued are collaborative law, mediation or "traditional" litigation. 

Litigation is the most commonly understood way to go about getting a divorce, although it is increasingly less popular than mediation or other alternative dispute resolution options. The reason fewer people pursue this avenue is because it is often more costly, as it can involve several rounds of court proceedings and a great deal of lawyers' time. Sometimes, litigation is necessary because a couple cannot agree on hot-button issues like child custody or division of assets. Other times, couples can agree on certain issues and take a more collaborative approach.

In high asset divorce, does remarriage end spousal support?

There are many issues often at play when a married couple chooses to end their union. In a high asset divorce, one common issue is spousal support. Many Alberta payers assume that spousal support payments will automatically end when their former spouse remarries or finds employment, but this is not always the case. While courts may rule to reduce or end spousal support in these instances, the details of the divorce, finances and agreement between spouses can impact the end result.

Typically, a material change must take place in order for a family law ruling to be called into question and overturned. A material change must be a substantial, continuous shift in circumstances that could not have been foreseen in making the original agreement or ruling. If a judge rules that a material change has taken place, the matter may proceed in family court. 

Considerations for retirees pursuing divorce mediation

It's common to hear about couples staying together for the children, but what about staying together for the retirement savings? For many Alberta seniors, dividing up assets right before or during retirement can be a big undertaking, especially if plans and savings were designed with staying together in mind. For those who do decide to split later in life, there are a few important things to consider during divorce mediation.

The divorce of those over age 50, known as "grey divorce," is on the rise in North America. Statistics show women often fare worse in many divorces, with an average standard of living decline of 45% for women rather than 21% for men. Grey divorce can be a challenge for those of either sex, but individuals who have depended largely on one partner to bring in income while they cared for children and/or the home can be particularly vulnerable.

Family law considerations when divorcing young

Many individuals going through a divorce in their 20s and 30s assume the process will be straightforward, especially if they do not have a shared house or children yet. In reality, even seemingly simple break-ups can have their fair share of legal, financial and personal challenges. Here are some things to consider when working through an Alberta family law case earlier in life.

One of the most common misconceptions that younger couples have is that they do not need legal representation if they have a limited amount of property to divide. In reality, even with limited property, there is still a great deal of legal paperwork and process involved in a divorce. If one party has legal counsel and the other doesn't, he or she could be at a serious disadvantage throughout the process. Knowing what to expect through all the stages of separation and divorce is a challenge, and there are many legal documents involved that should be reviewed by a family lawyer.

Does who initiates a divorce impact property rights in Alberta?

While some divorces are mutually agreed upon, many are initiated by one party. The other person may feel this is unfair, especially if they do not want the divorce themselves. However, the details of who chose to pursue a dissolution of marriage are typically unimportant in settling issues like property rights.

Those who have saved money rather than spending it throughout their lives can feel particularly unfairly treated if their spouse initiates a divorce. What if the spouse leaving spends it all foolishly? Despite how legitimate these concerns may feel, details such as what a former spouse might do with their share of property does not factor into the division of property. The reason for the divorce is also not typically a factor, unless it is necessary to consider for an issue such as child custody. 

Signs someone may be hiding money in a high asset divorce

When a marriage ends, former couples need to work toward a resolution with regard to their joint assets and liabilities. One of the things that can make this process difficult, particularly in a high asset divorce, is when one party attempts to hide assets. This can have serious legal, emotional and financial consequences, so many Alberta individuals going through a divorce are rightly on the lookout for signs that their spouse might have assets hidden. But, what signs should they be looking for, exactly?

One sign that a spouse may be hiding assets is overpayments to creditors or in tax payments. It is possible that someone may purposely overpay the Canada Revenue Agency or a creditor in hopes of getting a refund of the extra amount after the divorce is finalized. If money is taken out of accounts for bills, ask to see the bill amount owed to confirm that the amounts match up.

Considerations for wealthy women in a high asset divorce

The earning power and wealth of Canadian women is higher than ever, but what does that mean when it comes to marriage and divorce? A reported $2.2 trillion in assets are under the control of Canadian women at present, a number expected to double within the decade. There are several things wealthy women in Alberta should consider when tying and untying the knot in order to protect themselves in a high asset divorce.

A prenuptial agreement is a common consideration for wealthy women prior to marriage. It is important for spouses to agree on terms that align with the family structure they expect to create, and that the agreement is fair. For example, if both spouses intend to work, it can be considered fair for them to each keep their earnings separate. However, if only one will be working, this arrangement might be ruled as unfair in the case of divorce. Prenuptial agreements can also be used to protect family inheritances, businesses and gifts.

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